Spice Blog

Turn what pinches you into your spice

Erick Matsanza is from West Kenya and a product of a single parent household. Erick’s father left for the United States in search of better opportunities the year Erick was born. Ten years later, Erick’s father returned to Kenya empty handed and would eventually pass away just a year after his return. This left Erick’s mother, “a strong woman who took care of me and my six siblings”, struggling to ensure that Erick and his older brothers and sisters were educated.


Erick recalls the difficulty he found completing his education and how on one Friday afternoon, due to the cost of his tuition, his education nearly came to an abrupt end. On this particular Friday afternoon, Erick overheard his mother and his brothers locked in a heated debate concerning how they would move forward with financing young Erick’s education. Unable to come to any sort of conclusive agreement, Erick’s older sister, a librarian at a nearby school, would provide the solution by taking Erick under her wing to continue his education with her. “Today I stand tall because I am inspired by the actions of my mother and my sister.”




For if not me then who? And if not now then when? I echo the words of Mahatma Gandhi when I say that I have to be the change I want to see in the world.”

– Erick Matsanza



My aim is to subvert the top-down approach to social change through which academic or professional knowledge is of a higher value than lived experience. Valuing status over experience leads to decision-makers making decisions that simply do not work for the majority of Kenya’s citizens, especially women who remain discriminated and marginalised as these decision makers tend to represent the minority of privileged men. This top-down approach often creates systemic human rights violations in which the government is complicit.”

– Erick Matsanza



My mission is to empower women through journalism, critical thinking and creativity. Kenya’s women need to right the wrongs they are all too familiar with in their society.”

– Erick Matsanza



Read more at ZOD CULTURE , an explicitly anti-exclusionary project that actively seeks to carve out a space for  passionately driven and critically conscious creative production in an open and socio-politically active environment.



Creating a more inclusive Society


“Women have always impacted society in their own creative ways. The men, however, have never stood up to realize and recognize these abilities.” – Erick Matsanza, Founder Spice Without Borders and the SpiceTalks Platform. Read more about http://www.heforshe.org/en/newsroom/identity/my-dress-my-choice


Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN under secretary-general
Erick Matsanza, a Kenyan activist, helped organise a protest in Nairobi against male assaults on women at which he dressed in a skirt, posted the photo online and encouraged other men to do the same. Get more at the Financial Times online publication. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7dc4d484-d962-11e5-a72f-1e7744c66818.html#axzz4Byv2ToTg




Get more about Ideas and inspiration for a gender equal world here http://www.heforshe.org/en/newsroom


Make The HeForShe Commitment that;

I am one of billions… who believe that everyone is born free and equal. I will take action against gender bias, discrimination and violence to bring the benefits of equality to us all.

SpiceTalks interview with Kimberly Mayes | Speaker | Author | Coach

Yeaaaaaah……it’s been a while.

I have been catching up on life & digesting on all that has happened in the last 2 months! From being asked to travel to Nairobi, Kenya to playing to Dubai, I had no idea God had all of this in store for me!

I have to be honest, it has taken me a while to come down from the whirlwind DREAM that I lived back in March. Talk about DREAM. CREATE. LIVE! ?! I didn’t see it coming! AHHHH!!!!

Well enough about me & more about Erick Matsanza, Founder of SpiceTalks, the organization I supported while in Kenya. I promise I will give you deets on my trip on a personal/entrepreneur level in the next few days, but for now, I want you to learn more about the amazing organization I had the pleasure to work with after 18 hours in the air. Enjoy! 🙂

KR: Kimberly Renay     ST: SpiceTalks

KR: How did the concept of SpiceTalks come about?

ST: SpiceTalks is freedom to me & its about what I had to go through in my childhood as a last born in the family & wanting to contribute to family issues in my own way. Fortunately I was never given a chance at the family level to express myself. I was silenced by my elder brother by being taken to be a kid. I all the time wished someone gave me an ear even if what I was going to say was irrelevant by virtue of being a kid. This threw me to the backyard as a child. So, I though why not create a platform where individuals can freely express themselves in their creative abilities & how great if they are social change catalysts. SpiceTalks {think TED Talks} is going to be a platform where those who go through Spice Chungu, our leadership incubator, come & share their vision for a better, sustainable & inclusive world through the spoken word and creative arts.

KR: Wow! What a literal interpretation of making our voices heard. I mentioned this before, but our childhood experiences really shape our world. When you realized that this was more than just a concept, what steps did you take to make it a reality?

ST: There are bold steps of faith I had to take. First, I had to brand the idea so I decided to register Spice Without Borders as an international non-profit. I then shared the idea with so many people, some of whom never believed in it, but that did not deter me from explaining what the idea was all about. My brand was provocative & those who looked at it thought I was in to selling fresh spices right from the farm & could never imagine what a chili had to do with women empowerment. Next, I had to make a call for participants to apply & it was all overwhelming at how many individuals got the attention of the idea. It gave me the confidence to know that the idea had indeed attracted like – minded individuals who recognized that they had something on the inside of them, what I call the inner spice, & really wanted to be part of the platform. I then started sacrificing the little resources I had while at the same time appealing for support from partners who believed in it. So many rejected the idea until the last minute when people & organizations started to come on board. Never loose hope, keep going for determination always creates a way & a defined path to where you want to go as long as you stick to the bigger vision & make the baby steps towards it. Every challenging situation provokes a solution to the mind, just dare to think differently.

KR: In purpose, there is sacrifice! With that sacrifice, you have to have a process & it sounds like you did just that, & look where it got you! WOW! Did you have formal training to build this incubator or was it a passion of yours that you studied & developed?

ST: This is my passion to help others find hope, strength, & courage through adversity. I did not have any formal training but then I was offered a scholarship at Kanthari International, an institute of social visionaries based in Kerala State, South India where I was mentored by the co-founder, Sabriye Tenberken who believed in my creative ideas & saw the social spice in me. Sabriye always told me of the hidden treasures I had & today, I see the treasures hidden in humanity. I also draw my mentorship from Jessica Mayberry & her partner Stalin K whom I spend quality time with at their organization, Video Volunteers.

KR: So it sounds like you had a real passion & you sought out the right steps to get what you wanted, it’s all a part of the journey to success! What was a challenge for you in the process of becoming a non-profit organization?

ST: The bureaucracy by those at the NGO registration board whereby they only want things to go their way.  I first conceptualized a project dubbed “Spice Chungu”, a 6 month incubator for social change catalysts particularly women from the backyards of society. I expected to register the organization as such but then I was denied because of the name “Chungu” with no apparent reason given. Since in Kenya we do not consider chili as a favourable spice despite its medicinal values, we consider a chili to be “Chungu” Swahili for “bitter”. I then opted for the name Spice Without Borders {SwB}  & Spice Chungu becoming it’s project & retaining a red chili as its identity.

To me a red chili is spicy & whether boiled or not, it never loses its taste, a symbol of the inner uniqueness of each individual irrespective of their different abilities or challenges in their life. The organization supports individuals particularly women, men are welcome, who nurture the spice while catalyzing social change through their creative abilities. The organization is devoted to transforming society by the creative & critical voice of the people.

KR: The concept of SpiceTalks is amazing. The things that promote change are typically the things that create a bad tad in our mouth, & SpiceTalks stands for that critical change. As a man in a society where being different is not always easy, how were you able to stick with the concept of SpiceTalks & get such a great following to support the movement?

ST: My passion for change & guts to challenge the status quo. If anything you are doing comes from the inside, you never loose the zeal no matter what. Do not let people define who you are just tell them who you are so that they can learn, relearn and unlearn on how to perceive you. Always remember passion attracts passion. I have had to face challenges from my fellow men who see me thinking like a woman and I just don’t know how women should think differently from men. We are all equal but only with different roles. But again if am perceived to think like a woman, then I am honoured because women are great thinkers and change makers. I am who I am today because of the great thoughts of a woman. Just imagining. What if the woman was to think like a man? Probably I would not be who I am today. I still face discrimination by my fellow men to date for thinking differently but I understand because it’s the patriarchy which needs to be disrupted.

KR: You just said a mouthful! Tell us a little bit about any upcoming projects you have with SpiceTalks.

ST: SpiceTalks is going to academic institutions & to the grassroots right at the backyard where the social change catalysts we have catalyzed will be mentoring & spreading their spice. We are focusing on women and the girls for we believe in the power of their voice. Breaking the silence & addressing social issues that matter to them most. It’s the most effective way to tell the unheard stories first hand by those who have experienced social ills.

KR: More greateness to come!! Give us a word of advice for those who are looking to change society by developing their business ideas in to a social enterprise

ST: All I can say is that the world today needs social change farmers, and the world needs cultivators of spice but above all, the world needs those who will plant the spice in their backyards. For one to cause change in the society then you have got to be that change yourself then go and scatter the seeds of change right where you want to see that change. You could be part of the problem you are trying to solve and that means you have to overcome it yourself. Always remember you can only experience true growth by empowering others. Make your personal issue everyone’s issue because you are a voice to the voiceless. Focus on impacting the society the rest will follow.

WOW! How could I NOT travel thousands of miles to connect with an organization that TRUELY embodies the passion of developing individuals to change the world through their community? How could I NOT be impacted by such a bold man that encourages nothing BUT change? The DREAM. CREATE. LIVE! spirit is definitely in Kenya!

Want to learn more about SpiceTalks & the incubator? Check them out here:

SpiceTalks Website


I have to tell you, I had an AMAZING time in Nairobi, Kenya, supporting Erick & his organization develop it’s incubator participants personal stories. It was an breathtaking experience.

Get this interview at http://www.kimberlyrenay.com/blog/feature-friday-spice-talks/5/5/2016

SpiceTalks Eligibility Criteria

The SpiceTalks 2017 conference theme is “All are Spicy: – What is your Spice.” The spice in you shape our understanding of the past, how we live in the present, and our vision for the future. The inner spice is discovered from within not only by people, but also by companies, institutions and movements. SpiceTalks 2017 is focusing exclusively in East Africa and on defending, preserving and protecting: Civil Rights through creative ways e.g. the spoken word, music, poetry e.t.c, Human Rights, Women Rights and Children Rights and Entrepreneurship.


Applications for the SpiceTalks 2017 are now open to be a speaker submit your application online at www.spicetalks.com/apply2017



» Have been faced by adversity and overcome a social ill.
» Are eligible to receive any necessary visa to Kenya.
» You will need to be aged 18 years or older at the time you are making your application.
» You could be running a social change project already or wanting to start one.
» Ready to share your personal story to a public audience and have it published on our platforms.
» Have a passion to effect social change in your backyard using your personal story.
» Are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking basic English.
» Willingness to learn and share your skills with peers and mentors.
» Ability to share your skills with your intended project beneficiaries.
» Deep rooted in the community you seek to transform.
» Must be ready to avail yourself when called upon by our Catalysts
» We respect individuals academic performance however, selection is not based on academic performance or qualification.

We do not discriminate applicants based on ethnicity, race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, socio-economic status or disability. Spice Without Borders reserves the right to verify all of the information provided during your application and in the event that there is a discrepancy, or information is found to be false, the applicant will immediately be disqualified. Any application not meeting the above eligibility criteria will not be forwarded to the selection team for consideration.



» Mentorship in Public Speaking, Personal Branding and Pitching
» Safe platform to share your personal story and validate your experience.
» Learning from different perspectives by fellow participants.
» Empowered to see the visible or invisible barriers n your life.
» Being part of Social Change Accelerators movement with new and meaningful connections and relationships



Creativism at SpiceTalks

To us creativism is an intersection of arts and social justice bringing together diverse group of people committed to transformative social change. Through a combination of spicy talks and sessions and informal activities. Creativism is a term our founder, Erick Matsanza, coined while on a leadership scholarship in the year 2014 at kanthari international, an institute for social visionaries based in South India, to mean activism through creativity. Its a new approach to catalyzing social change through spaces where artists, advocates, media makers, cultural organizers and donors can connect, reflect, share ideas, and brainstorm innovative ways of inspiring and mobilizing support for social justice values and solutions through the arts.

Experience creativism at SpiceTalks by discovering your ultimate creative potential: you as your individual conscious, you as your society and you as the universe disrupting the norms in the creation of a future reality you desire.

It all starts with your curiosity and understanding your experiences, needs, hopes guided by your own fears. Then you roll up your sleeves by doing.

As a doer you build, test and explore creative solutions to your problems.

This then becomes your innovation as you are inspired to approach problems differently. SpiceTalks fosters innovation and demystifies the visible or invisible barriers you have encountered based on what you look like, your cultural background, where you were born, issues from your past or how able-bodied you are. This is only but to sample afew of our social challenges that tend to throw us into our backyards.

As a social innovator or entrepreneur, you encounter visible or invisible barriers based on what you look like, your culture, where you were born, issues from your past, or how able-bodied you are.

SpiceTalks is a curated social event designed to spark , ignite curiosity between social change and entrepreneurship. This platform aims at facilitating better impact and opportunities for social change makers.

If you are interested in sharing your personal story, listening to disruptive conversations or exploring how to make a difference for social innovators and entrepreneurs from the backyard of the society, then this is the platform for you. SpiceTalks is for anyone who wants to be inspired to make the society’s social impact community more accessible and inclusive to everyone!

The Creativism at SpiceTalks bring you spicy benefits as it gives you a safe space to share your personal story, validate your experience, or listen to different perspectives. Conversations at SpiceTalks will empower you to see these visible or invisible barriers. You will form new and meaningful connections are relationships

What are you waiting for? All of us are spicy, come find out what your spice is.

Visit our website www.spicetalks.com today on how you can use your unheard story to make positive implications on social, political and economic theories. Join the creativism world.

Get to know about SpiceTalks 2017

The SpiceTalks 2017 conference theme is “All are Spicy: – What is your Spice.” The spice in you  shape our understanding of the past, how we live in the present, and our vision for the future. The inner spice is discovered from within not only by people, but also by companies, institutions and movements. Applications for the SpiceTalks 2017 are now open and to be a speaker, fill up our 2017 online application form.

You can also propose a speaker for the the SpiceTalks event through our online speaker nomination form.

SpiceTalks is an initiative of Spice Without Borders, a nonprofit organization devoted to freedom of expression. SpiceTalks brings you ideas from the backyard of society, usually in the form of short, spicy talks (10 minutes or less). SpiceTalks was first held in 2016 at Mageuzi Theatre, Pawa254 which offered us the venue. 50 people attended the event. There was film screening from SIMA Awards USA and inspiring talks from the participants. It also attracted Kimberly Renay from the USA who came as a guest catalyst to help the participants. 2017 marks the second annual SpiceTalks Event. Meanwhile, independently run SpiceTalksX events help ignite conversations at the backyard of society, in communities and organizations around the world.

All SpiceTalks speakers and organizers are volunteers, committed to nurturing and bringing out creative and spicy ideas from the backyard of society to the fore with a hope that it will make communities and the world a better and more inclusive place for all.

If you’re interested in learning more about SpiceTalks, please view our Frequently Asked Questions.

Know Your Spice! Catalyze Social Change!

Hot chilies are incredibly complex and with different flavours, so are participants in initiatives by Spice Without Borders (SwB). There are numerous varieties of chillies that come in unique shapes, flavours, and of course, heat.

SpiceTalks, an initiative of Spice Without Borders, is to help you traverse this wild world of spiciness, and it all starts with the Scoville scale through which the heat is measured. Our spice list brings that famous pepper scale to life. It allows you to see the heat from mild to hot, as well as get an idea of what that heat is like on our platform as social change catalysts share their personal stories.

At SpiceTalks, we develop presenters through our Spice Chungu Program while at the same time continuing to seek for presenters from the backyard of society who will inform and inspire. These are voices that count in their backyard.

Culture, personality and gender all play a role in how much you enjoy a fiery meal. Spices especially chilli has always been valued for its ability to add flavor and aroma to dishes and in some cultures their medicinal and antiseptic characteristics are revered. Our Social Change Catalysts are know to challenge the status quo and spiceup their backyards with transformative narratives. They put their backyards into perspective addressing the social ills in their communities. Thats their flavour in making a difference.

So what are the type of spices you will experience at Spice Without Borders and on the SpiceTalks platform? Know Your Spice! Catalyze Social Change! SpiceTalks are categorized in five different categories namely;

GREENSpice: These are individuals who establish community training centers for the marginalized persons and environmental projects

REDSpice: These are individuals who cause change by raising awareness and inspirational talks

YELLOWSpice: These are individuals creators; they are architects of change who use technical inventions for making a social difference

PURPLESpice: These are individuals who use music, the spoken word and other creative abilities to make the world a better place.

ORANGESpice: These are individuals who create social justice through business.

Ready to spice things up? Check out your own recipe from within you and jump to our stage. Inspire and transform mindsets to create a better world for all of us free from all forms of discrimination.

SpiceTalks “X” | At the heart of your community

SpiceTalks “X” is about ideas from the backyard of society independently organized by social change catalysts right at the backyard.

SpiceTalks runs community initiatives called SpiceTalks X throughout the year unearthing hidden issues at the margins of society and with local relevance. “X” means SpiceTalks happening right at the heart of the backyard of society.

At SpiceTalks we celebrate the diversity of those from the backyard of society, their energy, their vision and their focus to plant the spice as they are privy to social ills and have the natural spice to catalyze change in their communities. Our mission is to bring out ideas from the backyard of society and to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to provoke dialogue right in the backyards.

SpiceTalks by Spice Without Borders, a registered international not for profit organization in Kenya under section 10 of the Non-Governmental Organizations Coordination Act, is a platform for exceptionally spicy ideas from the backyard of society, and a catalyst for intense social change.

The platform is devoted to transforming the society by the creative and critical voice of the people.

SpiceTalks’ vision is to create a platform that amplifies social ills, catalyzes and provokes social change through creative abilities to the whole world. We are on a mission to bring out ideas from the backyards of society to a platform where social change catalysts creatively provoke and inspire the general global citizenry.

To disrupt and chart a different course, we need as many talented individuals, from all walks of life, to play a role in promoting a more tolerant and just society that serves the many, not just the few. We seek individuals who have been faced with life challenges, overcome adversity and are passionate, talented social change catalysts, social entrepreneurs and community leaders to share their personal stories to a larger audience and ready to take immediate action for long-term impact.

All SpiceTalks speakers and organizers are volunteers, committed to nurturing and bringing out creative and spicy ideas from the backyard of society to the fore with a hope that it will make communities and the world a better and more inclusive place for all.

The Speakers

In addition to the graduates at Spice Without Borders, SpiceTalks receives applications from speakers and nominees, who share their personal stories with us. A team of spicy social change catalysts evaluate the stories and make a selection.

These are stories from change makers and spicy thinkers from the backyard of society who take up the stage and creatively inspire the audience.

Their talks will leave you wondering as they ignite a fire in you to share and take action in your community. We are ever on the look out for people who want to share their unheard and spicy idea that will inspire and ignite conversations.

Once the selection process is complete and those selected notified, their names are listed on our website. To learn more about our previous speakers, you can read their full bios HERE

Be Spiced! Be Inspired

There is more to SpiceTalks than just talks. The medium for speech delivery is not just talks, performance too takes center stage to deliver knowledge, stories and inspiration.

SpiceTalks 2016 featured TDave an artist who livened the participants with his music performance. Join us in uniquely transforming mindsets with ideas from the backyard of society.

SpiceTalks is a platform for exceptionally spicy ideas from the backyard of society, and a catalyst for intense social change. It is a platform by Spice Without Borders, a registered international not for profit organization in Kenya under section 10 of the Non-Governmental Organizations Coordination Act.

We bring you ideas from the backyard of society through our annual event and other activities that seek to build an inclusive society.

The platform is devoted to transforming the society by the creative and critical voice of the people.

Our annual SpiceTalks Event invites social change catalysts from the backyards of society to speak for about 10 minutes. Which we then make available, free on our social stream platforms.

2017 marks the 2th annual SpiceTalks event. The event started as a small conference in 2016 with 50 people attending at Pawa254, Mageuzi Theatre and is growing.